Psychology A Level/GCSE Research Methods Matched Pairs Design

Understanding Psychology at A Level and GCSE: 11: Research Methods – Matched Pairs Design

Here is the 11th in our new series of Psychology blogs – useful for anyone revising for exams or thinking about taking up Psychology as a new subject at A level or GCSE.

Research Methods – Research Design – Matched Pairs Design

A matched pairs design is when you have different participants in two different conditions, but you match them according to certain variables, such as age, personality, gender, IQ etc.

For example, you may have –

Experimental Condition

Control Condition

Participant 1 – Age 24, Male Participant 2 – Age 24, Male
Participant 3 – Age 46, Male Participant 4 – Age 46, Male

And so on, so you ensure that both groups are pretty similar.

The control group is the group that does not experience the experimental condition. For example, if you were testing to see if vitamin tablets aid recall in exams, the experimental group would be given a vitamin tablet; the control group might be given a sweet, but would be told that it was a vitamin tablet.

This allows the researcher to compare the two groups.

The advantages of the matched pairs design are: –

  • The differences between the two groups are minimised through the matching process, so there are fewer participant variables.
  • There are no order effects (see blog no. 10), as you may get with repeated measures, since there are different people in both groups.

The disadvantages are that: –

  • It is time consuming and difficult to match people.
  • You need twice as many participants as a repeated measures design.

In the next blog, we will look at ways that we can try to control variables that might affect research.

Tracey Jones


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